India is the youngest start-up nation in the world! But what else? Where are the women?

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Recently, India made headlines with being the “youngest” start-up nation in the world because an astonishing 72% of founders are less than 35 years of age. It is incredible to think about how the younger generation has made their place in the competitive world of entrepreneurship. We commend all the 72% of the founder population for this achievement (and also the other 28%)!

Moving ahead from this, let’s talk about the other aspects of this statistical trend.

Adding to what we already know; according to NASSCOMM Startup India Report 2015, the largest chunk of founders comes from the age-group of 31-35 years with 26-30 years as the second largest. It’s no surprise that this age group takes up the largest space because the new innovations and ideas are also reflective of that.

Another interesting aspect is that about 7 in 20 startup founders were engineering graduates! M.B.A. holders were the second largest group after this. Going by the ‘engineering fever’ that plagues the country, it’s a fresh sight to see. Engineering professionals are getting into entrepreneurship and not just hopping on the engineering bandwagon for a safe and secure job.

Coming to the less discussed topic – the gender breakup.

The gender breakup of startup founders was a bit shocking and disheartening. The men took the stage with about 91 per cent and women startup founders made up only 9 per cent of the total.

While we take pride in being the youngest start-up nation and standing third globally – let’s not sideline the less appealing side of the scenario either.

There are few schemes in place like the Trade Related Entrepreneurship Assistance and Development (TREAD) scheme for women, Mahila Vikas Nidhi etc but the statistics tell us to go beyond that. Along with such schemes, let’s work on making the start-up system more conducive for women.

Why conducive? Here’s why:

“I wanted funds for my start-up, a rural BPO idea is what I had in mind. They told me ‘Why don’t you sell soap instead?’”, this was the experience of Saloni Malhotra, founder of Desi Crew; a start up that selects, trains and employs rural youth, largely women in data processing centres.

“If you are asking me if I was asked what if I start a family tomorrow, yes I was. I was absolutely asked that question, and my only response was they have to guarantee me that a male co-founder would not ever have any health issues which would expect him to take two months, three weeks or even 10 days off”, another anecdote of Nidhi Agarwal, the founder of Kaaryah.com, a fashion portal for women.

Anisha Singh, the founder of Mydala.com, a local service marketing platform, faced a similar situation – “I started raising money almost six years ago, and I was very pregnant then. I met somebody who said “You know, you can’t do this. You don’t know what it is like to have a kid”, so I said ‘Well, do you?’ Here was a man telling me – not asking, but telling me – I cannot do this.”

This is what needs to be solved. If we can solve this perception about women entrepreneurs and be more open to their aspirations, maybe the 9 per cent can become a ‘10’ next month and a ‘20’ the next year.

Next time, we should look beyond headlines and scratch at the real issues at hand too.

 

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